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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Wrong to say that Sarawak and Sabah Bumiputeras are other races, says ex-judge

GEMAS - The position and privileges of the native people of Sarawak and Sabah are stipulated in the country’s Constitution and are equal to those of the Malay Bumiputeras in the peninsula, said former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Noor Abdullah.

He said the use of “lain-lain kaum” (“other races”) in government forms did not refer to them, but to other non-native races.

Mohd Noor said that according to Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was responsible for safeguarding the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of the other communities.

“So, the question is, where is the position of the Sarawak and Sabah people? They are not other communities or others … they are equal to the Malays.

“The natives in the peninsula are called the Malays while in Sarawak and Sabah they are called Bumiputeras. So, the Malays and Bumiputeras are under the native category.”

He said this to Bernama when met after attending the “Martabat Adiwangsa” programme organised by the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) near here yesterday. Present was Felda chairman and Jempol MP Mohd Isa Abdul Samad.

Mohd Noor was commenting on the Federal Government’s move to abolish with immediate effect the use of “lain-lain kaum” to refer to Sarawak Bumiputeras in all official forms.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, when announcing the abolition on Saturday, said the move was approved by the Cabinet recently and a directive had also been issued to the National Registration Department director-general and state NRD directors.

Mohd Noor said the term “other races” was only used in two contexts, namely politics and law.

He said in a political context, the term “Malaysians” comprised the Malays, Chinese, Indians and other races.

“Since independence, the Malays have been associated with Umno, the Chinese, MCA and the Indians, MIC. So, the terms Malay, Chinese, Indian are for the majority races while other races mean other than these three races.

“Many have asked who the other races are? The answer is not the people of Sarawak and Sabah but the fraction of other races in the peninsula, apart from the Malays, Chinese and Indians,” he said.

In the context of the law, Mohd Noor said, according to the Constitution, the term Chinese or Indian did not exist to avoid racial discord.

“The mould of the Constitution does not want us to be known as Malay, Chinese and Indian because it will disunite us … so the term used is society or community.

“… and who are the society? First Malays, second Sarawak Bumiputeras, Sabah Bumiputeras and the third other communities. So, it is wrong for Sarawak or Sabah to interpret ‘others’ as referring to communities there,” he said.

Mohd Noor stressed that the position of the Malays and Bumiputeras of Sarawak and Sabah cannot be separated because they are of the same standing.

He said there were 38 ethnic communities in Sarawak and Sabah, and all of them were natives.

“Malays are natives in the peninsula while Sarawak and Sabah Bumiputeras are natives in Sarawak and Sabah … (they are) of equal standing.

“So, it is wrong to say that Sarawak and Sabah Bumiputeras are other races,” he said.

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